4 Easy Ways to Accurately Appraise The Real Value of your Marital Home

Selling your marital home during a divorce is an emotionally exhausting experience, but you want to ensure that you receive everything you are entitled to. Obtaining an accurate appraisal can be the first step toward putting your home on the market and moving forward.

Do you know how to make sure that you get an accurate appraisal for what your home is worth? If not, take a look at these four tips:

1) Use an appraiser familiar with the market and your area.

Just because your cousin used a great appraiser three towns over, that does not mean that she is the right appraiser for your house. The person you hire should be very familiar with your area, the neighborhoods surrounding yours, and the state of the market in your community.

The final number listed on your professional appraisal is determined by the interior and exterior appearance of your home, as well as the current market trends in your area. The value of your home will be partially determined by comparable, recent, nearby sales. You need to make sure that your appraiser is familiar with the trends that surround you.

2) Do your own research on homes for sales in your area.

By taking a glimpse at similar homes in your area, you can get a good idea about what your own home might be worth. Understanding where homes are currently valued in your market is a great way to ensure that you are hiring the right appraiser. Look at the comparable sales, and determine what you believe you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse should receive from the sale of your marital home.

3) Be present when the appraiser arrives.

Be sure to clear your schedule on the day the appraiser is set to arrive. You will not be able to explain the benefits of your home without being there.

If your home is within walking distance of a park, be sure to pass that information along. Have you recently remodeled, or is your home in significantly better condition than those surrounding it? Speak up! Being present during your appraisal is a great way to pass along the benefits of your home, and possibly boost the value in the eyes of the appraiser.

4) Self-appraise your home to come up with a realistic value.

Even if you are not familiar with the current real-estate market trends, you should have an idea about what your house is worth, and make sure it lines up with what the appraiser concludes. Completing your own research (based on similar sales) will give you the best idea, but you can also utilize online self-appraisal tools, which will give you a ballpark estimate.

Websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin are not always accurate sources of information, but they should help you come close to the value of your home. Online appraisals are great for quick snapshots of information; they give you an approximation of the value of your home. Keep in mind that they cannot account for the interior condition, so not all of these appraisals can be considered fully accurate.

Completing an accurate appraisal on your marital home is an important first step toward placing it on the market. Lenders are not keen about allowing buyers to finance more than the house is worth, so you want to ensure that your appraisal contains a realistic number.

By following these four tips, you will hopefully be able to come up with a more accurate appraisal. Then your home can sell faster, and you can begin to move on from your marriage.

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Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is author of Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide and host of the Divorce and Your Money Show on iTunes. Learn more at  www.divorceandyourmoney.com.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.